Plan a healthy option

17:00, May 22 2012
PPP: Health board deputy chief executive Ron Pearson is keen to see the Manukau SuperClinic site expanded to ease growing pressure on Middlemore Hospital.

A billion-dollar development at Manukau SuperClinic could be New Zealand's first health sector public-private partnership.

Counties Manukau District Health Board says it's considering the option "to free up Middlemore Hospital".

And it has dismissed a suggestion that such a deal would be privatising a public hospital.

Canterbury health authorities are also aiming to create a similar partnership to replace services destroyed by the earthquakes.

Health board deputy chief executive Ron Pearson says "the intention is to free up Middlemore Hospital to focus on acute health care".

"There has always been a long-term vision to expand the Manukau site and we need more capacity at Middlemore. Whether it's a PPP or not is a separate funding issue. The development and intent of the site has been known for years.


"This is what we intended to do and we've done a lot of planning already."

The plan is to build a "health park" and move all the mental health beds and about half the rehabilitation beds from Middlemore to Manukau.

Treasury and Health Ministry officials are working with the board on planning and a business case is expected by the end of the year.

The project could cost about $500 million in public funding and another $500 million in private investment, he says.

"There's a real serious effort going into this and we're looking at international models.

"We've looked at the Australian models and they've been doing it there with success but every model is different."

More than 120 Australian PPPs worth more than $35 billion were undertaken between 1980 and 2006. Around 21 per cent of them in the United Kingdom have been in the health sector.

Mr Pearson says the deal will give "easier, better access for end-users" and would not mean the privatisation of a public hospital.

"There's nothing like the intention of that at all.

"This is to ensure we have the most efficient, effective health service so why wouldn't you have them alongside each other?

"A lot of people could get scared about the mixed model but it's complementary. There's no way we'll be shifting services from public to private.

"If it did, it would be us sub-contracting the private services as we do now with elective surgeries," Mr Pearson says.

The project is already drawing "a high level of interest both locally and internationally" and a possible Whanau Ora partnership with Waikato iwi Tainui has been suggested.

Other ideas being pitched include a centralised food distribution centre and a regional data centre for Auckland's health boards.

Eastern Courier